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CHAPTER IV
A NIGHT INSIDE THE GREAT PYRAMID
JTTT^HE sleeping cats of Cairo opened their green eyes, I yawned prodigiously, and then gracefully stretched I their soft paws to the utmost possible limit. Dusk
^ was arriving and with dusk began the activity which constituted their real existence—friendly chats, food-scavenging, mice-chasing, open battle and love-making. And with dusk, too, I was beginning one of the strangest activities of my life, albeit a silent one.
I had proposed to myself to spend an entire night inside the Great Pyramid, to sit, awake and alert, for twelve hours in the King's chamber, while the slow darkness moved across the African world. And here I was, at last, settling down within the strangest shelter yet built on our planet.
It had been no easy task to arrive at this point, either. I had discovered that, although the public could always approach it, the Great Pyramid was not public property. It belonged to the Government of Egypt. One could no more walk into it and spend an unconventional night inside any of its rooms than one could walk into any strange man's house and spend a night inside his best bedroom.
Each time one visits the interior of the Pyramid one has to buy a ticket for five piastres from the Department of Antiquities. I, therefore, walked into the Department of Antiquities and optimistically asked for permission to spend one night inside the Great Pyramid. Had I asked for permission to fly to the moon, the face of the official who listened to me could not have betrayed more utter stupefaction.
I entered into a brief and apologetic explanation of my request. Surprise gave way to amusement; he smiled. I felt that he regarded me as a fit candidate for a certain institution which few of us would care to enter as inmates. Finally:
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